Advent Wreath Candle Lighting

advent wreath

Over the past two weeks I have been posting a poem (or a little song if you prefer to carol your candles) for the Advent Wreath or Sun Wheel Wreath, depending upon whether you are following the Christian or Pagan wreath and candle lighting December ritual. If you are Christian, this is Gaudete Sunday and you will be lighting the pink candle for joy. You can find my little advent ode to joy here https://sojourningsmith.blog/2018/12/09/advent-wreath-weekly-poem/.

For those following the Sunwheel Wreath, this is the final Sunday before Winter Solstice, which falls on 21st December this year. Then I will light the central white candle in the wreath. The waiting will be over. The sun is being reborn. The axis is turning towards the light again here in the Northern Hemisphere. Tonight at sunset I will light all four candles, the final candle being for peace.

Light a Candle for Peace

I light a candle for peace
and pray for unity.
I light a candle for peace
that we may live in harmony.

I light a candle for peace,
for the homeless and refugee.
I light a candle for peace
for all who live in tyranny.

I light a candle for peace,
to clothe the naked and feed the hungry.
I light a candle for peace
cherishing all who walk in beauty.

Light a candle for peace!
Light a candle for peace!
Light a candle for peace
to bless the dark.
Light a candle for peace
to bless its spark.
Light a candle for peace
so we all may hark.




In case you feel like singing the poem as you light your wreath. You can find the video and tune  at this link. on my YouTube channel. https://youtu.be/Df3J08djsYg.

This material is copyright free, so you may share and use with a clear conscience.

Let the light so shine!

Guest House

house guest

It’s full dark at 8am. The rain is beating on the double glazing.The house is muffled and I pad about by the light on the Christmas twinklies. I have been awake for over an hour and a half and still I am facing that blank page. I am preoccupied with what needs to be done before our Christmas guests arrive and how to dovetail tasks with concert rehearsals, feeding us and minding the menagerie. I was having a moment of Yuletide Mrs. Demento. Then Rumi came to me like a one man cavalry.

2018 has been marked by a steady procession of house guests from vernal equinox until the British late August bank holiday, with a few weekenders thereafter.  One friend dryly remarked that she wondered if I had registered with AirBnB. Some years it has been quiet, but not this one.  To stave off over-identification as a landlady I looked up the Rumi opening line from “The Guest House” in the Coleman Barks translation. This being human is a guesthouse.

I am reminded that hospitality is one of the four reverences in the Celtic spiritual tradition. The sacredness of the natural world and the divine in it is one, as well as the creative life of ‘making’ – whatever your art or craft. The last is anamcara,  soul friendship, the relationship with another that unites the body and soul. St. Brigid is quoted as saying for a person not to have an anamcara is like having a body without a head.

Houseguest

Come and rest.
Drink and eat your fill.
The sheets are clean.
The dog and cat hair
is never added to the bill.

But you may pet. They like that.
(Except the little deaf dog.
being the one caveat.)
By and large they will purr,
and lounge, and then
disrupt the Scrabble board.

Or they may move you to take
a sedate walk
up to the local holy well.
Because we all hope
to cure our cares.

Amidst the bubbles of laughter
and the murmur of chat,
there is a still point
in the constant motion
that is this being in transit.

With an occassional pause
to stop and share,
to break your journey,
to have a place at this table.

Sit with your hosts cozily,
your casually shed footwear
toasting by the firelight
along with all else
that needs to thaw.


Copyright © 2018 BeeSmith


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Repairing the World

Repairing the World

I read a very sad, worrying and salutary post in a private Facebook group yesterday. There an American Jewish woman told how on the fourth night of Hanukkah someone broke into her flat. That, in itself, would be horrifying. But this burglar spray painted swatikas on her back door. However, she ended the post by sharing a Jewish concept, Tikkun Olam, in Hebrew. It roughly translates as ‘repair the world.’ I am reminded of a non-Jewish friend explaining why she gave both her children Old Testiment names. This was because, immediately post-World War II, her parents and elder sister were in perilous circumstances. A Jewish couple saw their dire straits and kept the family afloat. If they had not received that bit of timely assistance, she would not be here. The couple did not have children, so when my friend had her own children, she named them in remembrance and gratitude from her family. That  couple lived the concept of Tikkun Olam, or repairing the world, starting with what they saw in their own street.

Today’s Poetry Daily is partly a meditation on how damage can be managed, as well as actually repaired. Most of all, I want to popularise this concept. Whether you are religious or not, this Tikkun Olam is an ideal that we all could embrace. And what a less hateful and horrifying world we would live in if more of us did the essential maintenance.

Repairing the World

We each have a beast
chained in a cave.
Plato was right.
In a cave what’s known
is Beast and its
Shadow, and all those
flickering on the wall.

Some are kind to Beast.
Many are not.
Some feed their Beast.
Others will berate
and beat Beast
whose friend is Shadow,
his known reality.

Some reckon that light
is key to cure,
taming for sure.
But such exposure,
too much, too soon,
can dazzle or blind.
Stay too much brilliance.

Repairs are often
done in stages,
one step forward,
a little retreat.
Beast will not change
overnight, next day
delivery it’s not.

It will take awhile.
before you will
unleash the Beast,
for all to feel safe.
Expect setbacks.
Diligent attempts
will keep up maintenance.

Good tools and patience
are essential.
Materials
well-manufactured
in skillful hands
oil the process,
help immeasurably.

We repair the world
just a little
by one chain link
at a time, one day
another fix
of another tear –
mending, tending, caring.

Know your own Beast.
It is your Beast.
Don’t blind that bear.
It may need a chain
outside of its cave.
But kindly persist.
Let it live with some light.


Copyright © 2018 Bee Smith

Today’s featured image is a Photo by NASA on Unsplash










In Case of Emergency

emergency climate change

In news we have more instances of climate change creating natural disaster. Earlier this year California was consumed in wild fire.  Hurricanes wracked the Atlantic coast. Alaska had an earthquake, which set off anxieties about a coastal tsunami swell. The Appalachian faultline is rumbling. So, too, is the earth being fracked in Lancashire. So my Poetry Daily addresses emergency strategies. Which may be a bit of a Job’s comfort as my late friend Jan used to say.


In Case of Emergency
 
There may be little point
in smashing glass…
 
In a quake:
it is recommended you
hang in a threshold place.
 
In a twister:
climb into the bath, pull a mattress over
if you haven’t got a cellar.
 
In a nuclear attack:
a bunker
won’t much matter.
 
It will be a matchstick world
full of hologram men
and women.
 
Now what do you hold onto
when all around you is shifting?
 
Some grapple faith, while
others grasp onto hope.
Still others reach for what they love.
 
It may be a tangible thing – another human,
a dog, a cat, even a pet rat.
We’re hardwired for protect and survive.
 
In case of emergency,
our ancestors knew the importance
not to panic.
 
Evolution may favour the fittest.
Worry may not.
Darwin did not stop and consider
 
the kinked calculus of fortune
in his equation
or definition of fitness.
 
Hold onto the magic.
It will show its harrowed face.
It may say it has a name.
 
Faith, it may say.
Hope, it may be called.
Love, it may answer to.
 
It may be courage.
But it will turn up
when most unexpected.
 
Hold fast in that moment.
It is the old magic that knows how
to shift with every shift and tide
to face the giant wave of time.
 
Copyright © Bee Smith 2018
 
 

Featured image Photo by Torsten Dederichs on Unsplash


Old Dog

Old Dog

While the Poetry Daily has previously sung the carol of the cats (or one specific one) that share our household, the old dog was wanting to get into the poetry act this morning. Our household currently is home to three cats and two dogs. But over the past thirty years there has been a procession of dogs. The first was a mongrel of indeterminate origin rescued from a house in Beeston with wallpaper saturated in chip fat. Poppet (aka St.Poppet) was our first dog, who taught us all about unconditional love and glued our partnership at times when ties were strained.

Murphy came next, a  bouncy sheepdog-Springer spaniel mix, who fell under the spell of his pure  bred sheltie pal Princess Pippin. Like Darby and Joan, those two were inseparable and died within six months of each other. Obe, a deaf terrier-spitz mix who had been ill-treated, came to us in New Year 2011, three weeks after Pippin’s sudden death and four days before my mother died. We were hospice for Sweetie for four months, during which she completely owned my heart. Then Cara and Ellie joined us when a relative could no longer look after them. Cara died between Christmas and New Year last year.

Dogs and cats both have valuable lessons to teach their human companions. Dogs teach us to receive. Cats teach us how to give. At least, that has been my experience



Old Dog

The old dog’s paw nails
clickety-clack on the floorboards.
She’s done this tap dance twice tonight.
She needs to go out…
again…
 
Night is tarry dark.
No crescent moon pierces darkness.
Cloud must be huddling close, low down.
Even the dog dreads
stepping outside without light.
She hesitates. Then goes forward.
She does what every dog must do.
Comes back.
 
She’s fifteen years old.
Dogs somehow always know the score.
They love. Look at life unflinching.
Right up to the end.
They sniff morning air.
Let the wind tell their nose stories.
They have the instinct when to
remove their collars,
let go of the leash.
Even though love always calls out
Stay!
 
Copyright © Bee Smith 2018

The Cailleach in Her Winter Cave

cailleach in cave

In Irish and Scottish lore, the Cailleach (sounds a bit like Cal-yuk) is Mother Winter. In some myth she is credited with creating this known part of the world by emptying her apron of stones to build these island kingdoms. She is the crone, the aging year. In springtime there is a stand off with the maiden at Imbolc and the struggle between the old and the new life is played out until the vernal equinox, when the maiden clearly ought to be the victor.

This primordial crone has echoes in other cultures goddess myths. I see her in a keening Demeter bereft of her daughter. I see her in Hecate who has the wisdom to help lead the world back to some kind of equilibrium with Persephone restored and the earth renewed and fruitful. Those who have never known food shortages, especially over winter, can barely imagine the desperation that our ancestors must have felt as they implored the earth to provide sustenance and succour. Our Midwinter feasts are based on using up perishable foodstuffs; and then comes time for preserving energy until the new planting season arrives. That’s when our ancestors did take a cue from bears and hibernate to conserve energy and food.

Today’s image is a photo I took when visiting Mother Shipton’s Cave in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire in 2016. Mother Shipton, with her living in the king’s woodland and this cave, with her prophecying, is a more modern embodiment of the crone or cailleach energy. She is a wise woman, as well as the cunning woman. And she is old, old, old.


The Cailleach in Her Cave
 
Deep in her winter cave
the Cailleach sits and croons.
She keeps with her a dog
whose coat is black at pitch.
 
She keeps the dog to have
company. But she has
with her a silver wolf
to keep strangers at bay.
 
Deep in her winter cave
the crone has her own light.
It is not a lantern.
Her right palm is alight.
 
She tosses that fire
like she would her dog’s ball.
She plays with it and it’s
not for warmth or cooking pot.
 
She has other needs. Look!
She watches it play out
bouncing on the walls like
a metronome for tunes.
 
She croons to the shadows.
She croons to winter cold.
She croons to her wolf pal.
She croons to her black dog.
 
She holds a tinderbox
in her other palm. It will
never scorch or cinder burn.
She keeps the need fire.
 
Deep in her winter cave
the Cailleach plays the light
and no matter how small
it shines on winter nights.
 
Copyright© Bee Smith 2018


Fashion Advice

fashion advice

As I was surfacing into consciousness this morning I asked myself, What does my soul want to write this morning? And the true answer was, Something fluffy. Because into every dark season there must be some light relief. Mondays don’t always need a Ms. Motivator. Fashion qualifies for a more gentle theme to enter a new week.

It will come as a surprise to many (especially my brother) that I actually do scan the fashion columns. Okay, it is pretty much limited to Jess Cartner-Morley in the Guardian, but still…I maintain a social anthropological interest in clothing and fashion. And one of her columns is the direct source of inspiration I sipped at this morning when my Poetry Daily motor was idling.  In addition, along with some college buddies, I confess to maintaining an aesthetic interest in historical dress and costume. We salivate together via Facebook tags. I  will also admit that I harbour a deep appreciation of handbag design. Imelda Marcos can keep the shoes!

Anyway, I digress. Here is today’s Poetry Daily.


Fashion Advice
 
It’s got to be all colour.
Or it’s all black.
No half-measures.
 
Here’s where I pause to consider
how culture is
a mirroring
 
of what’s happening, what will
be history.
Trends are zeitgeist.
 
Time maybe to be getting
the real New Look –
a compliment.
 
We don’t have to be matchy-
matchy, maybe
just try for a
 
compromise. Bi-partisan
mix and match looks
that dialogue.
 
That look great on the many
shapes and sizes,
in-betweens, too.
 
Set a new trend that will not
divide wardrobes.
Resist advice.

Change the course of history.


 
Copyright© Bee Smith2018

Featured image Photo by Fancycrave on Unsplash